The Anthony Braxton Standard Quartet Reviewed Some More

Source: Artforum International.

ANTHONY BRAXTON HAS TACKLED JAZZ STANDARDS throughout his career: from an unexpected mid-’70s appearance alongside his hero Lee Konitz on an obscure Dave Brubeck record, to outstanding recordings with Hank Jones and Mal Waldron, to a hefty eleven disc box set of sixty-eight Charlie Parker pieces. “I did the music because I love that music, I love that period, that is my lineage,” he told Graham Lock in 1985. Standards, for Braxton, are not some sort of side project or way of proving himself as a “legitimate” jazz musician. Instead, they are tools for responding to the history of the diverse musics grouped under the name jazz in ways that take it forward—and that even rewrite that history. Most standards began as pieces imposed on musicians by record executives seeking a hit. While they quickly became vehicles for some of the genre’s greatest innovations, their commercial appeal has often come at the expense of musicians’ original contributions, particularly those that employ avant-garde devices and more open structures.